Dutch Quirk #24: Say ‘leuk’ all the time 

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #24: Say ‘leuk’ all the time 

So, you’re telling your Dutch friend about your recent work status or vacation travels and you get hit with a “leuk!” 

They say it with excitement, in an informal manner — but what does it mean? And what’s up with the Dutch using it in almost every context?

It’s a word you’ll either love to use or cringe every time you hear it, and it’s safe to say, you hear it all the time. Why? Because it can be used about as often as a Dutchie eats hagelslag on a boterham, a.k.a every day! Let’s dive into it! 

What is it?

Similar to the word gezellig or lekker, leuk means nice or fun. Unlike English, the Dutch use the word leuk for everything. Here are some examples where your eardrums will be tickled by this delightful Dutch word:

  • Oh, hoe leuk! – Oh, how fun!
  • Leuk man! – Nice man! 
  • What en leuke jas! – What a nice coat!
  • Het is superleuk! – It is super nice! 

Fun fact: The term leuk did not always mean “nice” but instead meant “lukewarm”’ or “tepid.” Dutch linguist, Nicoline van der Sijs, first recorded this term in her chronological dictionary in 1898.

In earlier times, the word leuk could have meant “serene” or “calm.” 
So, how did we go from using the term leuk meaning “lukewarm” to “nice”? The students of course! In the 19th century, leuk began to be used as the English word “cool”.’

Nowadays, the word can be applied to anything from the mundane to the amazing. You’ll hear this word being used among Dutch men, teenagers, and even grandparents. 

It’s a broad word used by a range of ages, and we’re all here for that! 

READ MORE | How to speak Dutch in seven words or less

The word can also be used to describe a person: leuk meisje (attractive girl) or leuke jongen (nice boy). In this scenario, it has two meanings: attractive and aardig (nice, pleasant). 

There’s also a romantic connotation to the word leuk. Perhaps the most Dutch way a person can confess their deep love for you is “Ik vind je leuk,” meaning “I like you.” 🥰

Why do they do it?

It’s like the adapter plug of words: easy to use, can express when you’re happy about something or someone, and it’s casual, so bonus points!

Don’t know how to respond when a Dutchie tells you something that you know they’re excited about but you have no interest in whatsoever? No problem — just grab the word leuk from your Dutch vocabulary.

While Dutch people can be direct, they can also be informal and who doesn’t love informality?  🙋

Why is it quirky? 

While the word itself isn’t very odd or unconventional since English has a similar term, how the word is used makes it rare since leuk can be slipped into almost every scenario. Talk about functionality! 

Should you join in? 

Yes! It’s the easiest way to integrate into Dutch culture. Since it’s a simple word used almost daily. You could even say that it might be leuk to join in! 😉 

What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Francesca Burbano
Francesca Burbanohttps://burbanofrancesca.journoportfolio.com
Francesca is an international at heart but moved to the Netherlands to get her degree in media and communication. While she's not a big fan of the cold weather and biking (for good reason — she's been hit by bikes three times already), she fell in love with the canals, bitterballen, and the 'gezelligheid' of Dutch culture. When she's not writing, you'll find her reading thriller books, hitting her personal records at the gym, and cuddling up with her Ragdoll cat.


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